Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Birth House and Learning Centre - meetings, partners & planning!

About an hour outside of Kasana in the District of Luweero, on a bumpy road into the bush, is the community of Kakira-Soweto (pronounced kacheera). Just getting there is a journey and once you arrive, you'll find the town trading centre - a few mud huts and a handful of run-down brick rooms where a local woman sells candles, soda and sugar. It is a passionate community made up of many families who tend to cattle, and rely mostly on a diet of milk. There are children everywhere - there is no school, so they run around and play and by the time they are about 12, have no education and no means to leave, usually marry and start a family. Many of the men have turned to the local home made alcohol, young boys stand around with nothing to do but drink and the women are surrounded by babies, children, and girls who will themselves soon start their own families.

Children are dying of malaria, there is no source of employment, no opportunity for children to go to school, no health clinic or doctor and no clean water. The women in the community have a very poor diet and therefor, have many complications during birth - the closest health clinic is over an hour away. By the time they reach a doctor, they have often died. Maternal and infant death is common and change is deeply needed! After meetings with the community, we found that their primary concern was health. For this reason, we are working with the community, the handful of traditional birth attendants working in the area, the sisters of Bishop Asili Clinic in Kasana and the elected leaders to create a project that can address these issues!

The Shanti Uganda Birth House and Learning Centre will do just that. The Birth House will focus on preventative care and work with local birth attendants to improve the health of women, their babies and the entire community of Kakira-Soweto! Not only are we able to work with and support a very dedicated community who are more than ready to participate and create programs that improve the health of the women and children in the area, but we have also partnered with a fantastic BC based organization!

The Earth Rising Foundation promotes healthy communities through sustainable building practices and natural building. They use natural building techniques and local, reusable and sustainable materials. With a focus on developing self-sufficient initiatives, they use local labour and are committed to embracing local customs, the environment and people in the building of projects! www.earthrisingfoundation.org

Adam Perry, the founder of the organization, just happened to be in Tanzania working on another project and took the LONG bus ride to Uganda to visit the birth centre site and meet with the community to discuss natural building - what it is, how it is different and the various ways the community wants to get involved! The meeting was a huge success! We have the support and participation of both the men and the women, the traditional birth attendants AND the community leaders. The TBAs shared with us the ways they want to get involved and their needs and assured us they would stand behind the project to make sure we work as one! Even the women in the community want to get involved with the building and learn new ways to build sustainable homes!

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